Scientists explain: This is the reason why we forget things

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According to a new study by neuroscientists specializing in memory, forgetfulness may not be wrong. Find out why it is for you and what it means.

Have you ever been told you have a memory like a goldfish or, instead, a sieve in your head? Or maybe you’ve already forgotten? Don’t worry. Because science says you might be better off for it!

Amnesia and hypermnesia
While amnesia is rightly considered a disorder that should be avoided at all costs, its counterpart, hypermnesia, or the ability to remember absolutely anything – is not talked about enough. This condition prevents the brain from sorting through all the information we gather. As a result, we store everything in our memory.

But back to the topic at hand: According to findings by neuroscientists, forgetting may not be such a bad thing. It even enables us to learn in a certain way.

Forgetting: Why does it happen?
According to researchers, when we forget specific memories or information, it is mainly due to the environment in which we live. In other words, our memory depends on the needs associated with it. Forgetting thus seems to be a way of adapting to a constantly changing environment.

In an article published in Science Direct, we learn that forgetting is beneficial. This is because it allows us to choose which drawer of memories and knowledge we open, depending on our behaviour. Our thinking becomes more flexible, leading to better decision-making.

Dr. Ryan, whose research team works at Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute in Ireland, explains, “Memories are stored in groups of neurons called “engram cells,” and remembering something accurately requires “reactivation of these groups.

Logically, forgetting occurs when engram cells cannot be reactivated. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the memories themselves are still present, but the specific ensembles are not activated, and thus the memory is not retrieved. It is as if the memories are stored in a safe, but you cannot remember the code to open it.

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